Three days after Hurricane Florence made landfall in Wilmington, NC, flood water still surrounds buildings in Trenton, NC, on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Casey Toth/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)
Three days after Hurricane Florence made landfall in Wilmington, NC, flood water still surrounds buildings in Trenton, NC, on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Casey Toth/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Surviving Florence With Family In Wilmington

I am from Wilmington, NC and my family did not evacuate for Hurricane Florence. I heard from my family the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16, and they are safe and everything is fine. I thought it would be interesting to share my personal experience with Hurricane Florence as someone local to an affected area. 

I first heard about Hurricane Florence the Sunday morning before the storm hit from an article in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled “Wilmington, NC, is in the center of Hurricane Florence’s latest path. Storm will be ‘extremely dangerous,’ NOAA warns.” The title of the article alone gave me goosebumps, but I quickly shook away any feeling of impending doom by reassuring myself that hurricanes hit Wilmington all the time and that it was too early to project the effects of a hurricane that wasn’t going to make landfall for several days.

Later that same day I talked to my mom on the phone and she mentioned Hurricane Florence and that my family was trying to decide whether or not to evacuate. I honestly still didn’t think much of it. I trusted my family and respected that they will make the best decisions for their own safety. Plus, hurricanes happen all the time. Nothing was new, exciting or particularly stress-producing.

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On Monday my friends started talking about the potential of class being canceled later in the week, making the storm seem much more real. If class would be cancelled as far inland as Winston-Salem for a hurricane, the damage in Wilmington would have to be devastating.

Tuesday morning I started having friends reach out to ask if my family was evacuating and whether I thought they would be okay. I still wasn’t that concerned. I figured that, if this was a horrible storm, my family would surely leave. They’ve lived in Wilmington all my life and my mother even grew up there. They know how to deal with storms and when to evacuate. Honestly, there was so much buzz about the storm that I thought there was no way my family wouldn’t evacuate. If everyone else was, they would too.

However, by Wednesday I hadn’t heard anything from my family about their plans to evacuate and was getting pretty stressed. So, I texted my mom Wednesday morning to ask “Are you leaving Wilmington?” to which she replied that my family would decide whether they would leave Wilmington on Thursday, the same day that Florence was meant to make landfall. I knew of friends who had already evacuated by Wednesday morning. The idea of waiting until the last minute to decide to evacuate was shocking and honestly sounded incredibly irresponsible to me, especially because my family has no reason not to be able to afford to evacuate. I called my mom Wednesday night and she reassured me that the house was safe and it would be okay if my family did not evacuate. I trusted her and had faith that everything would be okay.

The texts that I got from my mom on Thursday evening as Florence was approaching Wilmington claimed that the news was exaggerating the extremity of damage and the storm wasn’t that bad in Wilmington. I didn’t get any more updates until Sunday evening.

Now I am seeing pictures on Facebook of the damage and, yes, as far as I can tell, this storm caused worse damage than the usual hurricane, which makes me incredibly worried for the state of my hometown.

On the phone today my mom told me about sinkholes, fallen trees, branches and heavy flooding. It is strange knowing that my family is in the situation they are in without me truly knowing how bad the storm was and how bad flooding that is still coming will be.

I am living in a lot of unknowns right now, but am sustaining optimism as it is better to assume things will be good than worry about something I cannot control.

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